A former presidential candidate in the 2019 general election and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has cautioned against the escalating tussle over which geo-political zone should produce the next president in 2023, saying political parties lack the power to appropriate elective offices.
Olawepo-Hashim, who warned that the bickering has become corrosive and divisive to an already badly fractured polity, added that as much as freedom of expression of every Nigerian is recognised, utmost care was needed to ensure the delicate situation of the country is not further complicated with the pitching of one section against another.
He said the constitution guarantees every Nigerian who meets the required criteria, the right to stand for any elective office regardless of ethnic descent or religious persuasion.
“Any politician that wants to contest to be President from wherever can jolly well jump into the ring, there is no need to continuously blackmail the country by hiding under ethnic nationality groups. While political parties can zone party offices they have no power to zone elective offices. There is no need to split hot air over this any further,” he said.
He also maintained that whatever hue and cry that were raised in the past about a section of the country been excluded from being President has been settled by nation’s experience since 1999, adding that “of the 22 years since 1999, the nation has seen 13 years of President from Southern origin – Obasanjo’s eight years and Jonathan’s 6 years.
“When Buhari by the Grace of God ends his tenure in 2023, we would have seen Presidents of Northern origin for 11 years. This should be enough to lay to rest the divisive arguments about power rotation.”
Olawepo-Hashim admonished that “while we recognise the freedom of expression of every Nigerian, utmost care is needed now more than ever before not to complicate the delicate situation of the country by pitching one section of the country against another. This will be pouring gasoline into a raging inferno.”
He also warned that, “If we allow ethnic nationality groups prompted by different factions of the political elites to continue to drive the debate on our future, we shall soon arrive at 350 confusing pathways as Nigeria is made up of 350 ethnic groups.
“The other day, I saw a video of people speaking that even if the Yorubas are to produce a President, it cannot be from Ogun, Lagos axis again after Awo, Obasanjo, Abiola, Shonekan, Diya, Osinbajo and so on and so forth. This is what you get if you yield the polity to ethno religious tantrums,” he said.
He asserted that power rotation argument is always emotive and it tears nations apart.
“This is exactly what led to genocide in Rwanda causing the killings of 800,000 souls and same thing that ignited the collapse of Yugoslavia to an extent that virtually every county wanted to become a country,” he added
Olawepo-Hashim submitted that Nigeria is a modern state, not an ethnic federation, its subnational component are states and local governments and her primary focus is citizenship rights not regional and ethnic charters.